Non-Emergency Supplies

These two comments, from Sanna and Ideealistin, kicked of the responses to yesterdays Mini Mission post.  They make a great point about how we don’t need to be cluttering up our homes with stocks of items that in no way constitute emergency supplies. Especially when one spare is enough or in some cases aren’t even crucial. How often do you urgently need an envelope, a scented candle, four cigarette lighters or a can of fly spray.

And how far ahead do we really need to restock these items before they run out. Do you really need to have another bottle of shampoo waiting in the wings immediately after you start the current one. Same goes for your deodorant, dishwashing liquid, moisturiser, toothpaste, laundry detergent etc. Why clutter up your cupboard. Let the supermarket do your storing for you. Leave buying their replacement just before they are about to run out.

Believe it or not the world is not going to stop spinning even if you do run out of these things before your next grocery shopping day. So what if you use your husbands deodorant or your daughters conditioner or wash your hands with bubble bath for a day or two until you can get to the grocery store.

And I think this theory especially stands true when it comes to changing products. Like when you want to try a new shampoo and your current one is still about half full. How tempting is it to ditch that perfectly good current product and start using the new one if it is right at hand. Especially with all its promises to make your hair shiny and manageable.  Best to wait until the old one is all but spent before purchasing the replacement. How easy is it to end up with three or four moisturisers, conditioners, body washes or even breakfast cereals etc when the temptation of the exciting new one is right at hand. And what are the chances that you will go back to using the old discarded items when there is always a new temptation waiting at the store.

I have to admit I enjoy the chance to improvising. Like the time when I was half way through making a Thai beef curry only to discover I had no coconut milk and I did not want to rush out to the store. So I mixed together some milk, cream, palm sugar and a little coconut essence and no one noticed the difference. However if improvising is not your thing then you may want to be more careful with your stock of products than I am.

And for those who just love to have variety at hand or live a long way from the grocery store then this will, I guess, be an area of clutter you will be happy to live with.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter the excess of anything with elastic. In my underwear drawers there are always those couple of old bras, pairs of knickers, socks and stockings that only get used on the rare occasion that the ones I prefer to wear run out. On more than one occasion I have encountered the problem that these spare pairs are no longer useable because the elastic has perished during their lack of use. I have found the same problem in my sewing kit, the stationery drawer (rubber bands) and even among the sports gear (swimming goggles, elasticised shin pads, support bandages). So with elastic it is truly a case of use it or lose it.

Eco Tip for the Day

When all else is equal between one product or another choose the one with the most eco friendly packaging.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
  • You just never know. Firstly I would just like to apologise for my recent extended absence from the blog this month. Unfortunately my mother took ill and I rushed off interstate to visit her in hospital and to […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. This is so, so good and true. I am amazed at how my friend S has so much stockpiled around her house. In the bathroom you can’t find the top of her two sink vanity, the shelf by the toilet or the window sill in the shower for all of the products. I can’t figure it out. Why have all that stuff taking up space. You literally have no place to put anything for all of the other stuff. It’s one of the areas I plan to talk to her about when we pick up with our decluttering.

    I’m beginning to see my scrapbook supplies this way. I have had so many of the supplies for so long I’m tired of them. I’m in a whirl of using up some of it. Once I have used as much of it as I can find uses for I plan to put it in the “anyone want it?” pile. I’m going to start a new thing where if I have a reason to scrap something (card or layout) I will go to the store to get specifically what I need. Less money used, I will have thought it out before buying, and less sitting around taking space. Less to give away/sell too.

    • Hi Deb J, I know what you are saying about overstocked bathrooms. One of my loved ones has a tendency to do this. Not that the supplies are out for all to see but they are gathering dust and cluttering up the under sink cabinet. A case of “Oh, that is cheap, I’ll give it a try.” while the other products get shoved to the side. They are frugal enough not to want to throw them out or pass them on but they don’t consider that fact that most of the castoffs are now rancid trash.

      I only wish that I was wiser and self restrained during my heady scrapbooking days. Cute supplies I could use for future pages and sales were hard to resist, not that I even tried. My husband and I used to allot ourselves a certain amount of pocket money each pay week and I spent most of mine on scrapbook supplies. Hence the huge declutter in that area over the last three years. And like you there is more to be done.

      • I was a scrapbook-aholic. I couldn’t go into a store without buying a lot. Of course, back then I had a good job and scrapbooking was my passion. Now I don’t have the money and am not as passionate about it. Still. I have way more than I need. So off it goes.

  2. In keeping with today’s post and today’s mini-mission, I’m suggesting you check your first-aid kits. Most of the stuff in a first-aid kit is good forever but sticky-backed bandages lose their stick or bond themselves to their wrappings. From time to time I put the older ones in the bathroom and put new ones in the first aid-kits. The rotation keeps everything fresh and usable.

    • Hi Wendy, I agree in fact I think I mentioned the first-aid kits yesterday. However your post inspired me to get up and really get ruthless with my first-aid kit. There were many things in there that have been there for a very, very long time. Things that could still be used but what are the chances that I will need the bandage from a sprained ankle I had in 1985 when there is a newer one from when Liam had one in 2010. I also probably will never need the finger bandage and the little gadget that helps to fold it back over itself. And to be quite honest I can’t remember the last time I needed a medicine glass, soI sure don’t need two, one of which looks like it ought to be donate to a museum. These days medicine bottle come with a measurer attached should I ever actually buy any. First-aid box eliminated and the remainder items transferred to the little plastic drawer below the medicines in the pantry.

  3. very good post. I also got weird looks, when I gave away perfectly good pens in my for-free-box. I gave away excess crayons in summer, and now this post is the excellent moment for excess colour pencils. I had them for a year and I didnt even use up ONE of those, so most of them can go. thanks for the reminder.
    My bathroom is down to the absolute minimum, all the things I have there I do use (if not daily, then at least) frequently. And I love it. its easy to clean. its easy to keep it that way.
    What I like most about having less: once you are close to a use up, you know it. There is no searching for eventual stock up on stuff (toothpaste anyone?), so shopping becomes quite easy. I have become very good at not letting stuff run out, just because I somehow notice it easlier and remind myself… monitoring my own consumtion habits for more than a year helped me immensly to reduce my amount of stuff.

    • Lena, I second you on actually NOT running out of stuff when I don’t keep a stock. We do have one (half) drawer with bathroom product backups (sometimes things come in bigger packages and the spares go there, sometimes it’s nice to take the opportunity of a sale but I limit that to the items we use up regularly, to one spare one AND to really good offers only) but that really is the limit. I don’t ever want to go back to when I had some things here and some things there and lost track of my “inventory” regularly and would either run out of something or buy stuff I really already had plenty of because I remembered it wrongly …

    • I hadn’t thought of this that way Lena. When you know the one you are using is the only one you have, you also know you had better pick one up at the store the next time you are out if it is about to run out. You therefore don’t end up in a situation where you thought you had a spare in the cabinet but you didn’t and now you have none.

      • thats exactly what I mean. Since I have the overview of what I own AND what I consume, I am so much better at keeping a certain level. there is no stockpiling, but there is no running out either. perfect balance.

        Ideealistin, I also stockpile occasionally on stuff. I always have a spare toothbrush, always a spare litre of milk, just yesterday I bought a spare deodorant, because they came “buy one, get one free”. But I know my deodorant in my sportsbag will end soon as well, so there is no big deal in waiting for 3 more weeks…

  4. „I guess part of it is those packs they come in – sometimes dozens, sometimes even hundreds, that make you feel as if it was normal to stack those things.“

    I think this comment from Sanna from yesterday is brilliant and absolutely to the point!
    I’ve read about several studies that looked at the sizes foods come in and that found out that the amounts of food sold in one package have increased a lot over the years (and, surprise, surprise, so has our weight …). If it was the norm to purchase envelopes in packs of 10 instead of packs of 50 or 100 I guess not many people would come to the conclusion that they need to buy 10 packs instead of one or two to stock up.

    Of course the feeling of need for a stockpile is the second big factor and though I think it stems from generations who really needed to stock up for a bad winter or other times when necessities just weren’t available today stockpiling is highly promoted by shops and industries. They lure us into thinking that having stockpiles is normal with their special offers, their coupons, their two for one offers … and actually (okay, this may be a bit of a conspirancy theory I admit … but I am partly serious) with media coverage about couponing, stocking up, lists of what you should have at hand …

    • Ideealistin, not only do the retailers and particularly the manufactures convince us this behaviour is normal but it is also, on the surface, more economical to buy in bulk. I can assure you it isn’t a conspiracy theory it is a fact. Stay tuned for the link I have added to this week’s Friday favourites. I am actually considering only posting it and nothing else so people have time to read it more that once.

  5. Well, here’s a different perspective. Think of how wonderful it is to have some supplies to carry you through a period (long or short) of unemployment, or other changes in life situations. Having a few back-up packages of toiletries means I can use what money I have to pay bills, or purchase gas for the car, or buy food. I prefer to think and live like an ant and have a storehouse, neatly tucked away out of sight, so that I can survive the vagaries of weather or employment. My supplies allowed us to make it through my husband’s change of employment via three and a half years of college, while we had five children, ages 4 – 13. It sure made a difference in our quality of life and our dependence on others. Too many life and think like grasshoppers, living only for the moment, and trusting others to take care of them. Look how many are on food stamps in the USA. Ridiculous, when we have had such abundance to store from. Decluttering NON-USEFUL items is appropriate, but I will forever be grateful to have supplies stored to use regularly and in times of need.

    • Hi Rozann and welcome to 365 Less Things, I am glad that method worked for you and I appreciate your perspective. I am sure though that this is why a lot of people feel inclined to not be able to let go of things they might need some day. I suppose though that the counter argument to stockpiling would be ~ having saved the money instead of storing goods at home would put one in the same secure situation. When I think of clutter around the home one of the thoughts I have, aside from the wasted space, is the money wasted on it that could be earning interest in the bank. One can live for today while still planning financially for the future I know because my husband and I who started out with nothing much are certainly much better off today and our future is looking sweet as well. One never knows when tomorrow won’t come so best to not postpone all of the good things in life for too long.

    • Rozann, what you are describing isn’t a clutter of miscellaneous stuff picked up because “it might come in handy” or “it’s soooo cheap, it’s on sale”.

      Depending on your circumstances, well ordered and frequently rotated supplies for a few weeks or months might be a very good thing. But you have to be very disciplined and organised to make it work, it’s not for everyone.

    • Rozann – I love that “live like an ant and store up a warehouse”, I used to think like that but I was often storing items that I didn’t frequently use, especially in the pantry, and eventually they would expire. Likewise I’d stock-up the freezer and lose items amongst everything else in there as stuff got dumped on top (I have a standard fridge/freezer in the kitchen and an upright freezer in the garage) and either end up buying the same thing again or eventually discovering it had been frozen too long. And at least once a year someone doesn’t shut the door properly and we’d lose most of it. At the moment I am strategically using up the supplies in my freezer as there is meat in a lower drawer that is approaching its recommended freezer life – the not-so-popular cuts of meat etc.

      Someone on 365 once commented that if an item isn’t consumed or used within a month (within reason of course, she was talking about meat and canned goods) she gives it a lot more consideration as she’d rather the money in her account and given my ho-hum management of food suppliesm, I thought it was a good system for me to adopt.

      • thats a reasonable timeframe I think. I often stock up the pantry (or my 3 cupboardshelves for that matter) if I have a good month. And eventually I am either too lazy to go shopping or I am short on money and then I use up my pantry. Often I realize that certain items are not worth the space and they are then not replaced.
        I would say I could live more than 3 weeks without shopping. so in case the world ends, I could live for max 6 weeks straight and only then I would be too weak to fight the zombies anymore…

    • Hi Rozann, I also tend to stockpile like an ant. It helped out amazingly when we had no income for four months. I have a complete list of everything in my freezers, fridge, pantry, bathroom and cleaning supplies. I know exactly what I have and what the use-by date is, so the oldest always gets used first. I grow as much food as I can as well. I sell lots of items on ebay. I used to have a shop and have been clearing out that stuff as well as going through each room and pulling out things we no-longer use or need to sell. It’s great to see the spaces opening up in those rooms. I do bulk buy sometimes when something I always use is on a really good special.

      • Hi Lorraine and welcome to 365 Less Things. I find your comment interesting because it points out to me why having less equals less work. I am referring to the list you keep of the stocks you have in your freezer, fridge, pantry, bathroom and cleaning supplies. The job of compiling and maintaining that list probably doesn’t take a lot of effort but it is effort. If I don’t know exactly what I have in all those places, which for the most part I do, then a quick glance will soon inform me because there is very little. The perishable food would have been bought within the week and toiletries consist only of what I am immediately using. My situation would likely drive some people crazy but it works for me. Before my last move I started using up excess toiletries six months prior and still had extras left over to be packed and shipped. That won’t happen with my next move that’s for sure.

  6. I tend to agree with what Rozann said. When your home isn’t jammed to the rafters with excess clutter, there’s plenty of space to keep a certain amount of supplies on hand.

    Along with unemployment or weather, what if everyone in the house becomes ill, or you live alone and become ill, and have nobody close by to run to the store for you?

    Also, in this day and age, I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting the stores “store it for me”. With just-in-time delivery, you just never know what world event is going to prohibit deliveries. It may not be likely that deliveries will be stopped, but who would want to take that chance, especially if they had children in the home?

    I guess it all depends on what level of security you need. Some people are more comfortable with a higher level of risk than others.

    This is an interesting topic.

    • Hi Becky, I agree “When your home isn’t jammed to the rafters with excess clutter, there’s plenty of space to keep a certain amount of supplies on hand.” My point was that having the excess cash on hand in Rozann’a situation would have had the same effect. However, returning to your comment, I must be one of those people who is more comfortable with a higher risk level than others because although I can understand what you are trying to convey here it sounds like dooms day thinking to me. It is that downward spiral of thought that leads to people hoarding far too much stuff. As you say though if people are more secure living that way then they are certainly free to do so. I personally would rather envisage a brighter future. I think that even with my “meagre” supplies I could still survive in my home for quite a while without starving or running out of essential items. And since most of what I have talked about in these last two posts aren’t really essential anyway I am not concerned that I will fall short. If disaster does strike I am sure having a spare bottle of shampoo on hand isn’t going to increase my chances of survival. Please don’t read that as sarcasm because it was not meant that way I am just making the point that we sometimes confuse luxuries with essentials. Gosh, when I think of all the craft supplies I have on hand it in my home this whole comment make me sound like a complete hypocrite. Maybe it is time I assessed that situation again.

      • I tend to think like you Colleen; I don’t stock up on luxuries at all. However, since we’ve moved to the country I am starting to keep a stock of staples on hand, as the local IGA is quite expensive, and the big, cheaper IGA and bulk healthfood store are 15 minutes drive away (and I try to limit my driving). I also belong to the food co-op which meets once a month, and am trying to gauge how much food/toiletries gets us through that month. Fortunately, through all the info available on Simplicity/Frugality blogs I know I can use bicarb as shampoo successfully, and I can substitute lots of baking items if I don’t have something on hand, and my makeup supplies are down to 1 of everything. I’m happy with that:-) It is a really interesting topic, and I think that it does have something to do with one’s own mindset: I am basically an optimisitc, glass half-full person and tend not to dwell on the negative (and nothing seems to change that).

        • It seems to me Loretta that you are responding to your living situation and environmental issues well. Your mention of bi-carb as shampoo reiterates what I was saying about being able to improvise if necessary.

          Your mention of your optimistic mindset also got me thinking. Being as clutter is all about mindset perhaps the act of learning to live a more uncluttered lifestyle may actually improve ones outlook on life in general. Perhaps the realisation that one does’t need to rely so heavily on material possessions to live a fulfilled life promotes positive thinking. Now that is something to think about.

      • Not trying to sound sarcastic either (I have lived through horrible situations, bush fires, floods after cyclones and the horrid dry horrors as in weather not the morning after!!! , so I do understand stockpiling when you have a warning etc) but I reckon if the Zombie invasion does occur I will not be able to fend them off with extra shampoo, toothpaste or fabric softener!!! However I will be able to throw jam, sauce and salad dressing at them if chucking loo paper doesn’t work!!!

        Can anyone please explain to me how a very level headed, often frugal, slightly spendthrifty and slightly frivilous spender can keep everything in a resonable state of balance HAVE SO MANY BLOODY SAUCES, JAMS AND SALAD DRESSINGS!!!! Just Saying!!! For all my hard work in getting organised and being clutter-free except for Chrissy stuff and a few odds n sods now, how the hell have I acquired so many different flavours. I must have stolen it from other houses in my sleep cos I can’t for the life of me remember buying it when I went shopping!!! Seriously what is wrong with me!!! ?????
        🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Dizzy, I still think you had a specific reason that then didn’t happen. But just in case, maybe you are like my Mom and me. We think we want to try something new and then end up going with the tried and true. Mom also tends to buy on sale and get too much. Now that she has decided to stop going shopping because it takes too much walking that has gone by the wayside. I’m a write a list, get in and get out person. Shopping is right up there at the top of my DON’T LIKE list with housekeeping.

        • Hi Dizzy, I have the answer to your problem. Don’t take the kids grocery shopping. Having cleaning out the pantry this week I noticed I too have a large range of sauces in my cupboard and the culprit is Liam. He keeps adding them to the grocery cart when at the store with me. I let him be because he is such a pain to feed. However, he now spends most of his time at his girlfriends so not only are there too many but they aren’t emptying fast either. I must remember to ask him today if he would like to take one or two of them to his girlfriend’s house.

          I am glad you brought your problem to my attention because now I will also google recipes with peri-peri and bbq sauce to find some recipes I can use a couple up on myself.

          As for the jam make a batch of jam drops or a steamed jam pudding. Raspberry jam goes well between two layers of chocolate cake. If there is plum jam I have a great recipe for mexican chicken wings I could share with you. And marmalade goes well with Nutella on crepes.

          I can’t help you with the salad dressings. Although I would suggest that once they are gone find some recipes to make your own. It’s quick easy and usually made from herbs and spices, oils and vinegars you have on hand. My daughter and I made greek dressing last week and we had everything we needed in the pantry.

          • I’m using and for recipe idea – I use the .com one to change quantities on recipes, but the site is uses products we have easily available. When I have some excess stuff in the fridge or pantry to use up, I just type it the search field.

          • Hahahaha thanks for that and I do believe you may be right, the boys are banned from now on. As for some of the bits we have had a few barbies so a lot has reduced. Good grief!!!! I really thought I might be a sleepwalking thief hee hee!!!

            I have had a look at a few sites and have found some good ones so I shall endevour to cook more and use up. I want to be midway between just enough and ‘old mother Hubbard’, I’m finding things just get out out hand without trying!!! Must be the weather!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Dizzy – re: the salad dressings – pasta salads with some cucumber, capsicum, ham or salami, corn kernals and/or whatever else takes your fancy, are an excellent way to use up salad dressings. I just google image pasta salad and pick on that I like the look of and go with that.

          Jam – if you have raspberry jam and are prepared to sieve the seeds out, I found a most-excellent chicken and raspberry recipe that I can send you the link for – and its weight watchers too!

    • Hi Becky – I have a friend whose household survived a major earthquake and they had no power or water for 5 days but their house was liveable and no injuries so they they considered themselves lucky. This happened the day before her usual grocery day. Two lots of friends with children had to move in with them as their houses were badly damaged and emergency services declared them unsafe to return to. She was stressing about how she was going to feed everyone on what was left in the pantry and the rapidly defrosting fridge & freezer as supermarkets were shut due to damage, debris and no electricity. She kept all three families fed on what she had in the pantry and said it was surprising how it got easier as the days went by and ironically as the pantry got emptier and emptier. Everyone got less fussy and the cooks became better at substituting items. Fortunately they had a full gas tank on the bbq but she said a neighbour was cooking over a camp fire which they all used the hot ashes the next day to make damper. I really admired her for coping in such a situation, but as she says didn’t really have a choice and everyone pulls together in a crisis. There were emergency kitchens set up across town, but she felt that they should leave those who had no other options and those waiting for news of missing loved ones, plus they couldn’t take a direct route to them as it was a cordoned off zone which had taken most of the damage, so it would have taken several hours to walk there as most of the roads were damaged.

      Her story touched a chord with me and whenever I find myself looking in the pantry and saying there’s nothing to eat, I remind myself that she fed 12 people for 5 days on more or less the same, and what aren’t I seeing in the pantry that can be eaten. And I’m trying to learn the skill of substitution.

      • Great story Moni. I was just thinking about this situation before reading your post and you mentioned the one thing that I thought would be really positive in such a situation. That is, that everyone would become less fussy about what they got to eat because something is better than nothing right. Given the fussiness of some of the people in my household I could almost wish myself in this situation. I probably wouldn’t want things to return to normal. 😉 I would also enjoy the community atmosphere I think.

        • Colleen – she said her husband wasn’t very happy about giving up his last can of beer to make damper but he enjoyed the damper and a lot of people got to enjoy it rather than just him having the beer to himself.

          I also recall she added crushed Weet Bix to mince (this was day 2 or 3 so meat from the freezer was still good) to expand a pack of minced beef to make a curry, enough to go around everyone.

          • Those quakes opened a lot of people’s eyes to what they can manage with if they have to! I realised that I eat far more than I need most of the time. During the first ten days after the quake I barely ate anything past what my body required to function, so I was often hungry but not ravenous, and it was a good indicator that I wasn’t really hungry enough if nothing in our store cupboard appealed to me.

            Our situation was a little different than most because my husband and I both worked the first ten nights for Civil Defence and had access to drinking water, enough food to get by while we were working, and Portaloos. Oh, and electricity from a generator, and internet access. All we had to do in return was work all night every night 🙂 It really was luxury compared to many in the city, though, and we didn’t have to worry about how to feed a big family or any quake refugees. It was really wonderful how people pulled together to make the best of things in a crisis. I imagine the atmosphere was similar to the Blitz in many ways.

  7. In the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 I was very glad to have a stockpile, especially after the February 2011 earthquake when we were without power, water, public transport, or shops for quite some time. It was wonderful to know that we had plenty of non-perishable food, treats, wine(!), toiletries, drinking water, etc., and after the 2010 earthquake I trebled our stockpile of such things so in February we had enough for ourselves and to share with neighbours.

    However these events did trigger some strange behaviour in me. Because we had no water at all for several days and were required to limit what went into the sewer and stormwater systems for months after that (we weren’t allowed to use our toilet again until June), showers were off limits most of the time and flannel baths at the sink were de rigeur. At the time of the February quake we didn’t have a single bar of soap in the house because I’d always bought shower gel, and we only had one flannel between two of us. As soon as I was able to, I purchased a bulk pack of 50 flannels and enough bars of soap to last for years. Even at the time, I knew that wasn’t rational, but it made me feel more in control of my hygiene.

    Because of how I reacted to being deprived, I can really understand how people end up building huge stockpiles of things “just in case” and can empathise with that, but it has also made me more aware of the symptoms in myself. Now we really try to only stockpile things that will actually be used, like tinned tomatoes and bottles of water, and rotate them regularly. It was an interesting lesson.

    • Great Comment Jenny, if anyone should be inclined to stockpile it is you. Having been through a disaster like that could easily put a person on edge. And yet you saw it for what it was, and what really was important in the midst of the disaster and adjusted your initial reaction to a sensible long term plan. Living in an area that is prone to earthquakes or other disasters like flood, war etc requires a certain amount of forethought and planning. You have kept it sensible and simple. Good for you!

    • Jenny – snap we’re talking about the same event. As an after thought, my friend visited us in Tauranga the following summer and we had fish & chips and bottles of cola at the beach and as soon as the bottles were empty she went and filled them with water from a tap. We asked her why and she said it is something she hasn’t been able to change since the earthquakes, she accepted every other area of her life but she can’t get out of the habit of filling containers with water.

      • Yeah, I carried a full water container round with me for about a year but have stopped now – in fact I don’t know when I stopped so it must have been a gradual thing. We nearly all got affected in little ways like this.

        One habit I did retain is this: I never, ever get into the elevator at work if I am thirsty or have a full bladder. Those things are programmed to stop if there is a big shake and I don’t want to get stuck in there! One of my workmates was in the lift when the big quake hit and he said it was like being in a washing machine. That would be bad enough without wetting myself in the process :-O

  8. Hi Colleen. About Rozann’s, Becky’s an Jenny’s comments I disagree with them in certain points. It is not having provisions enough that solves the problem, is being organized enough to deal with those provisions, if you really need to have stocked provisions where you live and how those provisions get to you. Here we have floods. Every year some regions suffer floods. Big floods. Others are unaffected. So if someone wants to make provisions for that, it is useless, because the water will contaminate whatever you have at home. If you are at an earthquake and your house comes down, whatever you have there stocked is gone. If you leave in an area that could be isolated due to weather conditions, you should make provisions for it. It is not an exact science, it all depends on where you live, and how you lead your life. For the little I gathered on the internet (I might be wrong) Colleen lives in an area prone to big fires. No use stocking, because should a fire happen, everything has to be left behind to save one’s life. Jenny, on the other hand, faced an earthquake and from what I understood, can face others, so it is very natural she should provide herself and be prepared for a natural disaster. You can always save money and not groceries for harder times, if your concern is not having money to buy food due to financial burden. So what I mean to say here is that this post meant that if don’t have a pressing reason, there’s no need to “clutter” your house with stocks from the supermarket. To change products on a whim before you use the other one. We should be prepared for emergencies, but everyone has to take a look at their own lives, see their needs, then decide what they are going to do about it. I get very pissed when somethings ran out on me (like shampoo and olive oil) and I always have a closed one (or two) before the one I am currently using is over. So I don’t agree with Colleen on this, I do a little stocking, but it has it space and it does not constitutes clutter.

    • Well said Andréia I couldn’t have said that better myself. One should plan for the situation they are likely to find themselves in if they live in a disaster zone of any sort. Beyond that me plan to our own comfort level. So we do actually agree. You said it all right in this sentence ~ “what I mean to say here is that this post meant that if don’t have a pressing reason, there’s no need to “clutter” your house with stocks from the supermarket.” and as you pointed out this is a very individual thing.

      When I write these posts they aren’t saying ~ “This is what you should or should not do!” ~ they are saying you make your own choice but this is one of the realistic limits you can put on yourself depending on the level of how decluttered you want to be.

    • Interesting post, Andréia. One person’s clutter is another person’s organised stockpile. It really does come down to individual situations.

      We are aware that our house might, at some point, fall down (although let’s hope not!), so we have stockpiles at two different places in the building (laundry room and spare bedroom) as well as the kitchen cupboards, and another emergency stash including food, water, and a full change of clothes and shoes in the chicken coop in the garden, which is made of light wood and not going to keep us from getting at what’s inside. Oh, and water, muesli bars, and walking shoes in the car in case we aren’t home when disaster strikes. We also keep a small amount of cash in the house and I keep some in my wallet, even though New Zealand is largely a cashless society as nearly everybody uses electronic payments. Those only work if there is electricity so hard cash is better in an emergency, assuming of course that there are some shops open!

      We as a whole were caught by surprise to have such a devastating earthquake in Christchurch. It was not predicted or expected for this city and a lot of people had no stockpiles of anything, not even water. I’d like to say we all know better now but I’m certain some people will still rely on the generosity of others if disaster strikes again, just as they did last time. But I don’t plan to be part of that group 🙂

      • Hi again Jenny – I just want to add that I do keep an emergency get away kit and I also have one at work too. And yes we keep some cash available too. And don’t laugh, a 6 pack of beer. No seriously, you can make bread out flour and beer in a pinch.

        I mentioned in an earlier comment that I’m working my way thru the freezer, running down the stocks in that. As freezers run more effeciently when they are full some one suggested to me that I fill empty plastic bottles with water and pop them in the freezer. These can be emergency supplies of water in a disaster and keeps my freezer running effeciently.

        Where I live is on flat land facing the pacific ocean, so we’re a tsunami risk. Plus White Island is 40 mins down the road (active volcano). So we’re planning towards something different, though earthquake is always a possibility.

        • I would never laugh at emergency beer – we keep a minimum of 6 litres of wine in our emergency stash in the chicken coop (in unbreakable cardboard boxes of course)! And beer bread is very tasty especially if no other bread is available.

          Keeping a stash of water in the freezer is a very good idea. I know other people do that and if we had room I’d do the same, but for us it would be clutter because there is no place for it 🙂

          • PS Hope White Island calms down again. I know it looks like an eruption is on the cards…

          • Hi Jenny and Moni. You sure have to be prepared for a worst case scenario. I am glad I don’t live at a tsunami risk or earthquake risk area. I have only seen big natural disasters on the TV and internet, so I don’t really know how to prepare for that as you do. Hope you two never have to face big awful disaters.

          • Jenny – Good idea using the boxed stuff!

          • what a great conversation. I forget sometimes that living in midwest germany, it is probably one of the safest spots on this planet. There is no emergency, no disaster, no fire/earthquakes/floods, nothing risky whatsoever. My worst case scenario is a breakdown of the financial system, and I dont want to start thinking about those consequences. 😉

            I get it that some people are stockpiling out of irrational reasons. I already mentioned my aunt, who grew up in west-berlin. I never seen such amounts of food for a person living alone. But she says that she cant be calm, if she knows that there is not enough food – “because what if they close the boarders again”… I can understand that behaviour, and although I did make my jokes about it, I didnt think it was wrong.

            For some people, like me, stockpiling is clutter, because the natural circumstances are different, space is not enough or money must be spent elsewhere. For some people it is just essential for survival. clutter is not always clutter.

  9. The other day I took my hubby grocery shopping with me. I don’t usually take him as he is like a kid in a candy store. He was all excited as there was clearance stock of canned peeled tomatos at 30 cents a can as they were expired stock. Now I’m sure they would be fine and I’m not opposed to a bargain, but I knew I already had 6 cans of tomatos at home which I bought in Oct/Nov but as it is summer here, I’m not making casseroles or pasta bakes etc as its salad and bbq weather.

    He wanted to grab another trolley to fill it with canned tomatos but I said no. He then begged to buy 20 cans, but I wheedled him down to 2 cans and we’d see if they worked out and then we could come back for more.
    When we got home I suggested some dishes that called for canned tomatos but he said “no its too hot for that”. 🙂

    It could be argued that they would be a handy item to stock up for winter, but winter is a long way away and I have never heard of this brand before and a report back from a friend said that they were a bit bland, to the point where she’d had to add tomato paste and an assortment of condiments to bring them up to expected flavour. I am glad that I don’t have 20 cans – let a lone a whole trolley – to get thru.

    I do say that I use the supermarket as my pantry but that’s not to say that I don’t stock my pantry, I just don’t stock everything that I used to, just in case I want to make whatever-it-is on a whim. I think that is more what Colleen is getting at. If I want to make something special, I just add the special ingredients to my next shopping list.

    I am also learning about ingredient substitution – I am surprised at how interesting I am finding it – and “frugal” version of recipes that use everyday pantry items rather than special and more pricey ingredients – and are surprisingly just as tasty!

    • Hi Moni. I do that from time to time. I have a very small pantry and I don’t intend to enlarge it, so sometimes when I ran out of something (not olive oil or mustard, I never let those ran out) I just put something similar in its place. And you are right it makes for very tasty and surptising meals 😉 .

    • Your hubby is a hoot. My uncle is like that. He thinks a bargain is not to be passed up. They tend to then “pay” for the bargain later in not so good food. My aunt gets so frustrated.

  10. Such an interesting – and civilized – discussion! That’s why I love this blog, and all you commenters 🙂

  11. Here is a comment I received from Nanette via my email with an option on how to get rid of those unloved lotions and potions…

    I don’t know if this is an option for many, but in our area there are shelters/programs for battered and/or homeless women that help develop job skills and interviewing prep. In addition to things like gently used work attire, on their list of items that will make a difference are partially used bottles of lotions, hair care products, etc. You know, for when you succumbed to the lure of the new and improved even though you had some of the tried and true at home! “

  12. I think, it’s interesting that we are now talking hardly about anything but emegency supplies, although the post title indicated the reverse.

    We’re living in a very small flat and aren’t stocking up for emergencies of any kind. We do “stock” money of course and I know how to feed us and occasional visitors on just 2-3€ a day, so we are prepared for financially challenging times, but to stock food would just take too much space here. (we live in a rather safe area considering natural desasters)
    I usually buy food once a week and that works just fine, of course if I run a day late or so, there is a pack of pasta and canned tomatoes in a drawer in the kitchen as well as leftovers and other staples like flour etc that obviously don’t run out every week, so it’s always possible to find something to eat here. Just not everything or a lot of anything at the end of the week.

    But the real clutter isn’t food, but all these other stacks like toiletries, envelopes, wrapping paper, tissues, candles, paper clips, pens etc. We reduced quite a lot lately and I’m happy for it. We like candles and use them almost daily in winter, but still it’s enough to buy one pack and use it up rather than falling prey and stacking all kinds of different colours, scents, sizes etc. (I simplified by only keeping candleholders for one size, mechanical pencils that require the same size lead etc.)
    So I buy only small packs or singles these days – and in most cases still use up the very condensed rest of my former stacks – because who would have thought that me who always had a stack of 50 pencils doesn’t even use up one in two years! So even to have kept five is plenty!

    My toiletries have been immensely simplified as well. A lot of items have been extincted completely (like conditioner for example), others are now shared (like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo,…) and so there’s really not that much stuff in the bathroom and thus a lot less to stack as well. The only thing we do have a small stack of are razor blades, soap (we often get handmade soap as a present but have come to use one in the shower and one for washing hands) and a new set of tooth brushes, because I want to be able to offer a spontaneous overnight guest a tooth brush.

  13. This has become such an interesting conversation. I’m learning so much about all of you. I love that. Living in the Phoenix, Arizona suburbs we have very little in the way of natural disasters here. We can have floods in some areas but not where we live. We can get microbursts (like small no-warning tornadoes). For the most part though, we are much less under natures gun than other places I have lived. I have been through tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and fires in other areas where I have lived. It took us a while to get to where we didn’t have an “in case of disaster” supply area. I still find myself thinking about it and then reminding myself we don’t have to do that any more. With Mom she has always been one who wants to have more than she needs in the pantry. I know that comes from having been a child in the depression. She has finally stopped doing that and she says it feels freeing. She’s not STUCK with all that stuff so having to fix it. Isn’t it so interesting how each of us is unique in our perspective because each of us is unique in our experiences and backgrounds?!

    • Deb J, I have lived in flood, cyclone, earthquake and volcano areas through out my life and I have never had an emergency preparedness kit. I know others in these sorts of areas are probably thinking “Yes you are the morons who the rest of us then have to provide for when the worst happens.” and I can understand that. I suppose I just figure that what I have in the way of food and liquids on hand will get me through until help arrives especially since the first people who will be called up to help are the military of which my husband is one. I guess I am just happy not living in fear.

      • I think that when you are connected to the military you can take it for granted that you will not go long without help. Unfortunately, non-military people here in the US can go some time where they may need to fend for themselves. I think it is because disasters seem to hit highly populated areas and it’s too far to anywhere to get supplies.

  14. Hi Colleen – finally back on a computer that doesn’t ban your lovely site! Been a while! (Reading this on my phone is OK, but commenting is totally crazy – every word gets doubled, the last time I tried I think I gave up!)

    I’m a little peeved I have a ‘spare’ face wash and a ‘spare’ perfume – both were gifts from my mother. The face wash was more just she saw it at a good price. I hate having a ‘stash’ with these sorts of slow moving things. HOwever, I do like to have extra cans of tomatoes, coconut cream and the like (long term storage ‘bases’ of meals). But even when I don’t have them on hand – I have a green grocer and an IGA oh so close, it’s never that much of a disaster.

    • I have missed you Snosie, it is so nice to hear from you. I also have extra perfume on hand because both my husband and my best friend gave me some for Christmas. I was almost out so this is not a bad thing. One is expensive French perfume and the other is the one I was about to run out of. Now I can alternate between the two. But if I keep putting the French one on just to go to bed because it smells so good it won’t last long. 😉 A little sheer indulgence can’t hurt occasionally right.